Former CDC director: ‘I see this as a brand new day’

Former acting CDC director Dr. Richard Besser breaks down the CDC’s new guidance that vaccinated Americans generally don’t need to wear masks and explains the exceptions.
6:20 | 05/14/21

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Transcript for Former CDC director: ‘I see this as a brand new day’
Let's bring in former acting CDC director doctor Richard bass or and CEO of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. Always good to have you on the show doctor B. This CDC director essentially declare it's back to normal tonight for fully vaccinated Americans 45% of American adults are now fully vaccinated aren't specific situations like a supermarket crowded bar coffee shop that you personally plan to still Wear a mask. You know I I don't think so we did this to mean marks a real turning point in the in this pandemic and it's a recognition. That we have incredibly effective vaccines there's enough vaccines for her for everyone twelve and older who once once. The number of cases occurring every day are or aren't going down. And we're learning that it's it's very unlikely that people were vaccinated will spread the virus to to other people even if they happen to have to have some of it in their nose so. With all of that I see this says brand new day I am I am excited to put away my mask. To go out and engage with friends and others like I used to. Putting your mask away but what do for public transit in planes trains subways that all applies. Well you have to follow the local rules and regs and I I think for air travel loot the rules are still. That you should be wearing a mask with what this does though we eat it it doesn't say the pandemic has gone away it really puts the responsibility. On the individual. To get vaccinated or or not and if someone decides. That they're not gonna get vaccinated the risk is primarily to that individual. The the only other group that I would have millionaire really are our young children. And so we don't for for parents young children who can't get vaccinated. Should be wearing masks and indoor settings like Cuba bitter current got incest but does this now make those young kids more vulnerable. Well it always is the death gutsy good question it depends. What adults do you know if you have that the adults who are not getting vaccinated and you have a child who is wearing a mask. Who's around them they get some protection from that vast but it's not complete. Thankfully the wrist to younger children for severe disease is much much lower. But you need to want to wait that that has as a parent what settings you want to put your your child and if the risk of severe disease was. Higher in young children I don't think CDC would be making just she Ingrid. Now I just wanna circle back are you essentially pressing the reset button widger bottom line here be that look if you're fully vaccinated you can return to almost every activity you did. Prior to the pandemic. Yeah the the only the only it to a caveat to that is if you're someone who has an underlying immune problem or some. Special circumstance it puts you at greater risk of either severe disease or up to not have. Being being protected from the vaccine talk to your doctor pepper for everyone else is this is reset this is it time where you can say. Finally I can get back to the light to as I once knew it. Look we've seen case number certainly at the lowest levels in more than a year but at the same time the virus is still spreading variants are still coming here 55% of Americans are still not fully vaccinated if you're the director of the CDC today. Would you have made this move at this time. I want to you know I think that doctor want to ski laid out a good case for why she made this is this change at this point. There are a lot of people who said she should have been doing this couple weeks ago and there are a lot of people who are saying we she should be waiting another few weeks before making this change but I think. The evidence is there the important thing to remember though is that this is this is not a static situation. Andy if the case numbers in America start to go up significantly. CDC will need to look at that information and consider whether additional changes need to be made but given where we are right now. There were getting into the warmer seas and more outdoor activity to numbers are going down. The number of people in hospitals and it is is going down the number of people dying thankfully is going way way down. I think it's the right time to make this change. It seems like maybe this is an an honor system at this point are you concerned that unvaccinated Americans may now use this is essentially a license to go massed close. And that we could actually see an uptick in cases people ditch their masks which we all know at this point are the most effective tool in our arsenal to prevent the spread of the virus. Ya I think that is truly possible. The thing about that is that the risk here. Oh there's enough data to say that the risk here is primarily to those individuals who were deciding to not Wear masks and not get vaccinated. I don't think that that's a Smart risk to take. But if people are formed and that's the risk that they wanted to take they're the ones who're gonna and mainly bear that had the burden of that. Any sense that you feel it we should have a national database of people who've been vaccinated. I don't I don't think so I I think that. No idea I think did the more we can do to encourage people to get vaccinated. To share why it's it's a Smart way to go in terms of what you can do it needed do safely. I think that that's better way to go here. You know it's it's. Database I think with further polarize are our nation around this and this is been the most polarized response to any. Public health crisis in my lifetime. And lastly and I guess I'm just kind of playing devil's advocate here but we did get word late yesterday that at least eight fully vaccinated yankees tested positive for Kobe is that. Cause for concern as he's mass mandates or are being lifted. Yeah I you know I I heard doctor Wilensky talk about it a little bit more and video those are being further investigated because. I think it was six of those eight had no symptoms whatsoever in it the amount of virus that was found. Was incredibly low so are we looking to see further reports that nick nick come out of that. Admitted they key thing is could those individuals then spread it to others and it may be that that wasn't the case. Doctor Richard best sir thank you so much as always for your time your insight. It's always a pleasure thank you.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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